When Of Mice And Men’s ringleader Austin Carlile strolls out onstage proudly sporting his own band tee, it comes across as a bold, marginally vain acknowledgement of the position he and his bandmates find themselves in as of now. The shirt that will leave soaked with sweat arrives full to the brim with the expectations of fans and critics alike – the hopes that his band are one of the few that have what it takes to be forerunners for a new generation of artists set to thrust metal back into the gargantuan venues where it once reigned.
It’s a pittance then that an evening with Carlile and co. begins in such an uninspired, textbook manner. ‘Public Service Announcement’ is far from a ferocious opener, safely sticking within the confines of metalcore’s most tired tropes. ‘O.G. Loko’ subsequently blunders past in a similarly pale manner, reaching the pinnacle of obnoxiousness with a bog-standard breakdown that features a ‘kooky’ interpolation of hip-hop star Wacka Flocka Flame’s ‘Hard In ‘Da Paint’. There’s merit (and a frenzied flurry of appreciative punters) to be awarded for the sheer gusto that powers their delivery, but enthusiasm alone isn’t enough to make up for the reality that the songs aren’t nowhere near as powerful as they should be for a band of their stature.
It’s only when the set hits its mid-point that the qualities that define a budding rock behemoth begin to pierce through Of Mice And Men’s crass, crabcore-infused exoskeleton. The likes of newbies ‘Would You Still Be There?’ and ‘Feels Like Forever’ erupt with all the triumphant aplomb you’d expect from an arena anthem, all whilst showcasing the abundant chemistry that surges between Carlile and recently recruited clean vocalist Aaron Pauley. They’re moments of gold, but they’re not enough to make up for the second-rate tracks that clutter the majority of tonight’s proceedings.
As an inexplicable double encore brings a brisk and imbalanced 45 minute headline show to a close. It’s evident that whilst a spark of potential still burns bright within Of Mice And Men, they’re not ready to make that fateful transition into rock’s elite pantheon.